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FACT 1: Allergies, including those for food, can present at any stage in life.
FACT 2: Incidences of food allergies for certain foods are on the rise - modern science still does not know why the increase in certain foods being an issue, but some scientists hypothesize that an illness from a bacterial or viral infection may be the root cause for some. Another hypothesis is hormonal. Over 10% of American adults have at least one food allergy and 7% of the children.
FACT 3: An allergy is NOT the same as an intolerance or sensitivity. Mild allergic reactions may include ashes, localized itching, or congestion. The next stage for allergies can lead to systemic itching or breathing difficulty. The most serious symptom is death but other symptoms of anaphylaxis can include itchy eyes, swelling of face/lips/tongue/throat, hives, GI distress (cramping/pain/diarrhea/vomiting), or cognitive decline. A true food allergy begins when the body interprets a food protein as dangerous. IgE antibodies attached to mast cells cause a release of histamine leading to allergic symptoms. Once that has occurred, the body sees it as an invader and will try to attack at each exposure. A food intolerance or sensitivity is due to a missing enzyme for breaking down that food - for example, in dairy intolerance, the missing enzyme is often the one that breaks down lactose. Early reactions for both can be similar but a true allergic reaction gets worse with each exposure. An allergy can be tested for but an intolerance cannot. Avoiding food intolerance or sensititivities makes you feel better, but avoiding a food allergy can keep you alive since a severe anaphylactic situation can result in death if not treated quickly. The top allergens are:
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